It’s been an interesting few days to say the least. There is never a dull moment around here even if the girls whine on occasion that they are bored out of their minds!!
On a positive note the hens are laying like crazy. They are still obsessed with the first nesting box though. A few of them use two and three but mostly they fight over one. I think they are starting to take turns now that they are getting this laying thing down pat. Henny Penny insists on laying her egg in the feed room though. I may add Houdini to the end of her name considering that she manages to get out and back in without tearing anything down. We are up to a dozen eggs a day so far. It seems like each day or so we add another egg to the daily count. I even bought the girls one of the red wire baskets to collect the eggs in. They are tickled pink and carry that basket faithfully even if they only bring in one egg during that particular egg checking run!! Liza has become the egg warden. She keeps track of how many eggs come in, inspects them, and then puts them in cartons and has them organized in the fridge by date. It’s amazing that during school we struggle with math but when it comes to eggs both Eliza and Aurora can add in their heads without any hesitation. The chickens may be of more help than just providing food!
So now I’ll move onto the not so positive yet enlightening happenings of the past few days.
Our beautiful garden looks like a train wreck. I have absolutely no love for skunks or deer at the present moment. Chad and the chickens are even in a little bit of hot water! The skunks have been hanging around the house and have even so graciously sprayed the front door. I would imagine Otis spooked them. Yes, them. Plural. Two to be exact. For future reference you can throw fire crackers that only emit a seizure inducing light show out the door at them and they will run to the other side of the driveway while you grab the phone out of the rain that you left on the ledge…just saying. We are going to battle out the rest of the gardening season but there will be some sort of fence put up around it next year. We have also been battling a bit of blossom end rot. I love the fact that we are learning so many new things that will only make our garden better next year. Unless you have awesome, self-adjusting soil, it takes a little bit of effort to be able to grow a bountiful garden. Calcium levels are important for preventing blossom end rot. Too much or too little water can throw the levels off. I have read that putting eggs shells in with the plants at planting time is a huge help. We applied a commercial fertilizer that included calcium this year but next year the egg shells are going it. We have also learned that while fertilizer is a good thing, it can also be a hindrance at the same time by producing huge plants with no yield. Chad is a fertilizing maniac. I’ve kept him at bay this year and I think it is helping a lot. Over fertilizing can also affect the magnesium levels of pepper plants and keep them from producing. So with those few tid bits in hand, it’s only August and I’m already planning for next spring!!
Saving the worst for last, our pigs embraced the Chik-fil-A advertising campaign of Eat Mor Chikin. Up until this past weekend the chickens have been confined to their coop and run. Chad and I have discussed letting them out but we were concerned about Otis attacking them. We finally said we would deal with Otis if it happened and left them out. They were in bug eating heaven and Otis didn’t do a thing. They were in the garden but the damage was already done. Day 1 was awesome and we were so happy that we made the decision to let them out. Day 2 went south. The girls were staying with their Aunt and Uncle so Chad and I went out to do the chores and left the chickens out. Then we headed down to the shed to change the oil in the big truck. Chad forgot something up at the house so we ran back up. He headed to the garage and I headed to the “barn.” I could see two of the pigs dragging something and I thought maybe Chad had thrown in some weeds but then it hit me that he hadn’t. I ran over and sadly it was a dirt-laden barred rock. I started screaming and ran for a stick and the pitch fork. There was nothing that I could have done but I wanted to get it away from the pigs as quickly as possible. I hopped the barbed wire fence and Chad came running with the shot gun. After everything had settled down he said the way I was screaming he thought a coyote was after me!! Needless to say, a pig will eat ANYTHING. I did some research and they are classified as omnivores. Under stress they will eat their young and feral hogs will eat the carcasses of dead animals. The chicken was able to slip through the 4” x 4” squares of the pig fence. We picked up some of the same fencing that we used on the chicken run and are going to put that around the pig fencing so that everyone can co-exist in harmony. We stressed to the girls that it’s important not to be afraid of the pigs but at the same time they should not let their guard down. An animal is an animal. Same rules apply to the chickens and rabbits.
We’ve had some ups and downs but it’s all a learning experience. I think that I say this in every closing but we love the choice that we made to have the animals and to get back to the basics. The girls are learning so much about the animals, the garden, and life in general. I had better get back to the kitchen. There’s plenty of canning, freezing, and dehydrating to be done. Until next time!!